Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...The Diplomat's Wife

I found a copy of Pam Jenoff's The Diplomat's Wife for a measly two bucks at a secondhand store recently and have decided that I'm going to plunge into it!  Because of that, here's a teaser:

"'Before we could escape, the Kommandant found Emma and discovered that she was Jewish.' I recount hiding in the shadows, watching the Kommandant confront Emma.  'I had hoped she might be able to somehow talk her way out of it.  He seemed to have genuine feelings for her so I thought he might understand.  But when he pulled out his gun, I had to do something.  I shot him.'" (112)


Oh man...I love novels set during this time period.  Despite the horrific atrocities that occurred, for some reason it is my favorite point in history.  I'm excited for this read.

Friday, February 24, 2012

We Really Suck

Dr. Denis Leary's Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid was HIGH-LARIOUS!  He holds absolutely nothing back in this tirade against the American people.  What's even more funny is how spot on Leary is, merely saying what everyone else is too afraid to voice.  I loved it!  Leary touches on everything from politics, pop culture, religion, fashion, the differences between men and women, celebrities, and so on.  Really there is no subject that is off limits.  He even makes fun of himself, which is refreshing and shows the reader that he knows he's not exempt from the same judgement.  Though it's a harder book to review than most, I would highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't take themselves too seriously.  If you are easily offended, don't read this book.  If, however, you are able to laugh at yourself and view the world with a critical eye, by all means, pick it up and enjoy!

"If you're dating a guy who's more interested in the size of your chest than the length of your laugh--maybe you better start shopping around" (136)

Girl Woes

Markus Zusak's Getting the Girl follows the hardships of Cameron Wolfe, the youngest of the four Wolfe siblings, who is constantly in his brother, Ruben's, shadow.  Cameron is considered by most to be the least productive of his family, as well as the child with the least potential.  He is always trying to prove himself in one way or another, yet he keeps his true self buried deep inside for fear of familial reactions.  Ruben, on the other hand, is a cocky ladies man who women seem to love despite his notoriously slick attitude.  Because of this, Cameron looks up to his brother, even going so far as to develop feelings for some of Ruben's previous girlfriends.  When Octavia, one of Ruben's many conquests, comes into the picture, Cameron falls hard.  He spends his time fantasizing about Octavia and becoming increasingly jealous of Ruben.  Only this time Ruben's picked the wrong girl to pursue and he's soon on the wrong end of a verbally abusive tirade with an ex-boyfriend.  Needless to say things get all wonky from that point on and the characters take some pretty crazy turns, all leading to an interesting and memorable end.

I was really excited for this read.  The synopsis sounded promising and Zusak is the author of one of my favorite books, The Book Thief.  However, I was pretty ho-hum by the time I finished it.  The book was a very quick read, but I didn't really believe any of the characters.  I really disliked Ruben, and Cameron's older brother, Steve, for that matter.  Cameron's parents were pretty non-existent.  Octavia kind of struck me as a little hussy.  The only member of the family I liked was Cameron's sister, Sarah.  She was compassionate and truly "got" Cameron and his hidden love for prose.  Also, I really felt sorry for Cameron.  He was constantly in the shadows and it wasn't until he started writing that he developed his own sense of self-worth.  I did like the ending of the book though, so that's a plus.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why I Love...Book Worlds

Oh man.  How many times have I lost myself in an alternate reality via a good book?  Countless...honestly!  Nothing can beat being so immersed in a book and envisioning that atmosphere so completely that you feel as if you're an integral part of it.  For that reason alone this week's Why I Love deals with Book Worlds.  I've tried to branch out in my Why I Love responses so that they aren't redundant AND to show that I read a lot of different things.  However, absolutely nothing, I mean NOTHING, can top the world that JK Rowling created in the Harry Potter series.  For that reason alone my favorite book world is, hands down, without a doubt, Hogwarts and everything that goes with it!

I've imagined walking down those very halls and experiencing everything that comes with being a student at Hogwarts.  From the moving staircases, the variety of professors, the forbidden floors, the ghosts, and so much more.  Being able to conjure up such an amazingly vivid world, as Rowling did, is pure genius.  Her ability in fleshing every little aspect out is enviable and admirable.  Essentially, Rowling is a visionary of magical proportions and I applaud her in every way.
How much of a dork am I?  Do I care?  NOPE!
I've racked my brain trying to think of another book world that I would love to be a part of (for variety) and, honestly, I can't really think of any.  Well, maybe The Shire from The Lord of the Rings, but nothing else from that realm. While there are so many books that I love, I wouldn't necessarily want to live in that specific world.  Most have something truly atrocious or slightly off about them.  And, even though this same problem can be applied to the wonderful world of Hogwarts, there's just something about it that makes you want to live there despite the constant threat.  LONG LIVE HOGWARTS!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...Imagination At Its Finest

I never knew that The NeverEnding Story was based on a book...a German book at that.  I ran across Michael Ende's The Neverending Story in a charity shop, Teen Challenge, in downtown Albany.  As my eyes scanned the shelves for something to purchase, they alighted on the spine of this book.  The NeverEnding Story was always one of my favorite movies as a child, though it did scare me at first, and seeing that it was actually a book completely made my day.  So now I've picked it up to finally read...hence this week's teaser!  Enjoy!

"Bastian Balthazar Bux's passion was books...If you have never wept tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless...you probably won't understand what Bastian did next" (10)

I can't wait to see what wasn't included in the film.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dude, Looks Like a Crazy, Amazing Lady

Holy crazy pants!!!  I mean, you can tell that Steven Tyler is a crazy lyrical genius...or maybe just plum crazy...but his Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir really lays it out for you.  I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.  1) You get to see inside the dynamics of one of America's greatest rock bands, Aerosmith.  2) You get to see inside the twisted, drug-addled mind of Steven Tyler.  3) You get the inside scoop on the band's ups and downs.  4) It's freakin' entertaining as all get out! 

"In courting Joan Jett while on tour with her, I would strip bare naked, put on a robe, pull the chair from near the elevator all the way over to the end of the hall, pushing it to right in front of her door.  I'd then take my robe off and, sitting spread-eagled, ring the doorbell and wait for her to open it.  She'd open the door and her jaw would hit the floor as I said, 'I hate myself for loving you.'  She gave me that look that I really wanted to see and responded in her best Mae West velvety growl, 'I'm not into the big ten-inch, honey,' and slammed the door." (192)
Tyler holds nothing back in this memoir.  He is completely honest in his admissions; everything from drugs used and abused, women slept with and discarded, fights between band members and their significant others, how songs are conceptualized, and everything in between.  He's unapologetic and candid.  He's also a brilliant genius...with a twisted mind.  Sometimes he spouts absolute nonsense, yet it somehow works.  I would definitely recommend reading Tyler's book if you like Aerosmith.  For me, it further reinforced my love for the band. 

Searching for the Rebellion

Allie Condie's Crossed takes the reader back to Oren, or at lease back to the people who used to inhabit Oria, and the fight for control of Free Will.  The story picks up with Cassia, now exiled to the outer provinces, and her struggle to reunite with Ky and find the Rising.  It also brings us a little closer to Xander and imparts some interesting revelations about his character.  The book is full of deception, sacrifice, secrets, and testing relationships.  As the characters struggle toward personal growth and the Rising, the reader is asked to question motives and actions on a constant basis.  Who do we trust?  Who should Cassia trust?  Where is everything going to lead?  Will the Rising be everything the citizens (and the reader) want it to be?  What will happen once Cassia is fighting from WITHIN the Society?  And who will she choose?  So many questions to answer!

"Everyone has something of beauty about them....You notice the back of a hand, the turn of ahead, the way of a walk.  When you first love, you look blind and you see it all as the glorious, beloved whole, or a beautiful sum of beautiful parts.  But when you see the one you love as pieces, as whys--why he walks like this, why he closes his eyes like that--you can love those parts, too, and it's a love at once more complicated and more complete" (346)
I was so looking forward to Allie Condie's Crossed, the sequel to her first book in the Matched series.  While I did enjoy the rather easy read, I was disappointed overall.  It was good, don't get me wrong, but for some reason it didn't captivate my attention as much as the first book in the series.  Maybe I was disappointed in the fact that things seemed to be resolved a little too easily for my liking.  There were a few twists and turns that were unexpected, and that I rather enjoyed, but I guess I was underwhelmed by the entire story.  I'd still suggest reading it and, honestly, I am so looking forward to the conclusion of the series and the release of the final book...soon please ;)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why I Love...Love Stories

It's Wednesday (halfway through the workweek) and that means it's time for Why I Love.  Now I know I haven't been a dedicated Why I Love poster these past few weeks, but I am trying to remedy that.  Instead of reading through student journals and midterm exams I am choosing to actually write a post for this week's topic:  Love Stories.

I, like nearly every girl out there, love a good love story.  Though I don't generally gravitate toward "happy ending" books, sometimes you need a little pick me up amidst the melancholy.  This is where a good love story comes into play.  While a lot of the times love stories tend to follow the same pattern, there are a few that really stick out in my mind.  Here, in random order, are my picks for favorite love stories:

Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice
I absolutely love the story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy...mainly because I want my very own Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth-esque).  I like the fact that they start as contemptuous foes and gradually realize that they're perfect for each other.  It's so swoon-worthy!  I love the little nuances that Austen describes, like the touching of a hand or a mere glance, that completely encapsulate the underlying feelings of these two characters.  It's brilliant.

Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables
Now I know that most people wouldn't necessarily classify Anne as a traditional love story, but I fell head over heels in love with the relationship between Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe.  These two are the epitome of the schoolyard crush, complete with hair pulling and slate smashing.  It's comical, endearing, and unending.
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind
Despite the fact that Scarlet is a spoiled, entitled, uppity Southern Belle, the love story of her and Rhett is one of immediacy.  I never believed her love for Ashley (pure puppy love) and always loved how Rhett wasn't one to idly sit back and let Scarlet steamroll him.  He's a man's man and he balances Scarlet in a perfect way.  Their love was passionate and fiery.
Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South
Not many people have read Gaskell's North and South, but they should!  The love that develops between Margaret Hale and John Thornton is smoldering and passionate.  These two are continually at societal and economical odds, yet they manage to forge a relationship that is stronger together than it is apart.  They're perfect for each other and a true testament to the term "opposites attract."
There are a multitude of love stories that I could write about, but these four are the ones that stand out the most when I think of ultimate love stories.  Each is special in its own way and each will remain so.  Sigh...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...Adrift at Sea

This week's teaser is kind of ironic.  Mainly because I started reading it while on a boat out in the Pacific Ocean.  Thank God I didn't end up like Pi.

"Dumb with pain and horror, I watched as Orange Juice thumped the hyena ineffectually and pulled at its hair while her throat was being squeezed by its jaws.  To the end she reminded me of us..."(164).


The further I get into Yann Martel's Life of Pi, the more I want to sit and continue reading it.  Nearly done with it too.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...Gettin' Bossy

This week's teaser comes from a book that I've been wanting to read since it first came out, Tina Fey's Bossypants.  There are multiple reasons for this desire to read her book:  she's hilarious...and I really like the cover ;)

"The stylists like to figure out a few looks before hair and makeup begins, so you will try on twenty or thirty things.  Somebody will put up a makeshift wall by holding a full-length mirror next to an open loft window, and you will strip down naked.  You must not look in the mirror at your doughy legs and flat feet, for today is about dreams and illusions, and unfiltered natural light is the enemy of dreams" (148).


Oh my!  How embarrassing!  This sounds like such a funny read.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why I Love...Book Challenges

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
-Dr. Seuss- 


Wednesday has rolled around a few times in the last couple weeks and, for some odd reason, I kept forgetting to blog a Why I Love...  post.  I've read those that Reflections of a Bookaholic and Mocha Girls Read have been posting, but by the time I got into a blogging mood it was Thursday...or later!  I couldn't believe it!  There were definitely a few topics that I had ideas about and wanted to post on, but my lack of focus wasn't having it.  However, today I am determined to get back in the swing of things (though I'll miss next week's for good reason...hello Mexico and a week long vacation).  So here goes...Book Challenges!

I have to admit that my track record with Book Challenges this past year was kind of abysmal.  I entered two...and barely finished one (after cheating by lowering my original goal).  Now don't get me wrong, I'm still determine to complete a reading challenge and I feel that this is my year!  One of the challenges I entered last year, the A-Z Reading Challenge hosted by The Thoughts of a Book Junky!, never had a completion date.  Because of that, I have not given up on it and I'm going to finish that little beast if it kills me!  I'm nearly there.

Now on to challenges for this year.  I have, again, entered the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and am determined to stick with my original goal of 100 books.  I made it to just past half that last year...pathetic!  So far I'm on track for completion by the end of the year.  If I can continue to bust out seven to eight books a month, I'll be able to tackle the challenge completely.


Other than finishing up the A-Z Challenge and continuing to dominate the Goodreads challenge, I haven't come across another that I feel an absolute urge to participate in.  Added to that is the hectic schedule that comes along with being close to midway through the academic term and having massive amounts of grading to do.  Maybe I'll pick another one up this summer :)  Until then, happy reading and personal challenges to everyone!